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BAA posts wider 1Q loss as passenger numbers fall

BAA posts wider 1Q loss as passenger numbers fall

Airports operator BAA Ltd reported a wider first quarter loss on Tuesday after passenger numbers fell 10 percent in the first three months of 2009 as potential travelers were put off by the recession and the worst February snowfall in Britain in almost two decades.
BAA, which has been ordered by competition authorities to sell Gatwick and Stansted airports in London, said it has received a number of bids for the former and that an announcement about a deal is "expected in the coming weeks."
The company, which is controlled by Spanish construction giant Ferrovial, reported a net loss for the quarter of 228.8 million pounds ($345.4 million), compared with 39.2 million pounds a year ago.
Yet revenue rose 15 percent to 522 million pounds from 450.7 million pounds, due mainly to higher charges at Heathrow and Gatwick. Retail income from the group's airport shops also contributed.
Passenger numbers at Gatwick and Stansted dropped 14.6 percent over the quarter, while Heathrow remained more resilient thanks to long haul travel, with passenger numbers down 6.4 percent. The government is supporting the building of a third runway at Heathrow.
Chief Executive Colin Matthews said factors such as this year's later Easter date and the comparison with 2008, when there was an extra leap year day, also hit traffic levels.
"The rest of the year will be difficult and will present more challenges but our focus remains on raising service standards and maximizing efficiency," said Matthews.
BAA's pretax loss widened to 316.2 million pounds, from 55.6 million pounds a year ago, driven by a surge in interest charges for the debt laden company to 327.2 million pounds from 80.7 million pounds.
The shortfall also includes 140.7 million of losses on derivatives.
BAA has debts of 9.6 billion pounds, linked to its 10.1 billion acquisition in 2006 by a consortium controlled by Ferrovial.
Britain's Competition Commission ordered BAA in March to sell three of its seven airports _ Gatwick and Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh in Scotland _ to improve travel for long-suffering customers.
BAA has already put Gatwick, Britain's second-busiest airport behind Heathrow, up for sale but had resisted selling Stansted, a base for budget airlines.
The decision was hailed by low-cost airlines flying out of Stansted and consumer groups that have long lobbied for a breakup of BAA's monopoly, blaming it for high airport fees and poor customer service.
BAA has argued that the Competition Commission's analysis was "flawed," and that it might challenge the decision as offloading the airports within the required two years in the current economic climate could be "impractical."
Unions, who fear large scale job losses in an already hard-hit sector of the economy, were also opposed to the ruling.


Updated : 2021-06-13 11:40 GMT+08:00